Ocean Course

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort annually ranks high on top golf course lists nationally. Photo provided

Pebble Beach. St. Andrew's. Pinehurst No. 2. The Ocean Course. All are among the world's greatest golf courses but places most golfers only dream about playing.

They just don't fit into the average golfer's budget. The $383 Ocean Course greens fee, which doesn't include a gratuity for the caddie, keeps most locals from heading out to Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

Ruth Yack, a retiree who works as a ranger at Charleston Municipal Golf Course, said the Ocean Course was on her bucket list and a Women's S.C. Golf Association tournament allowed her to live her dream for only $105. At her home course, Charleston Municipal, tri-county residents pay $38 for a round, including cart fee.

Yack had visited the Ocean Course during the 2012 PGA Championship and said it was "beautiful as a spectator but nothing compares to playing it."

"On the back nine ... right there was golf, the fairway, the beach and then the ocean. You could see dolphins surfacing in the ocean, people riding bikes on the beach. It was a beautiful blue-sky day. It was one of the most immaculate golf courses I've seen. The greens rolled so perfectly. I would recommend that anyone that gets a chance, don't miss the opportunity," Yack said.

"Would I go back? In a heartbeat."

Jim Lamm, who recently shot 69 at Charleston Municipal, eight strokes under his age, said his first round on the Ocean Course came shortly after the 1991 Ryder Cup was held there.

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jim lamm

Jim Lamm's first time playing the Ocean Course was soon after the 1991 Ryder Cup was held there. Tommy Braswell/Special to The Post and Courier

Lamm worked at the Navy Shipyard and was returning from a trip to Washington, D.C., when he met two fellow passengers who invited him to join them, telling Lamm, "It ain't going to cost you nothing." He's played it many times since and served as a hole captain during the 2007 Senior PGA and 2012 PGA Championship.

"I got to see a lot of good golfers doing that," said Lamm, who once shot 75 at the Ocean Course. "The thing that really stands out is the scenery and the wildlife. It's a tough golf course. I probably couldn't break 100 out there now."

Chris Pinckney, a two-time Charleston City Amateur champion, has played the Ocean Course several times and said playing the same course where a Ryder Cup and a PGA Championship have been played is a big draw.

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tony morelli

Tony Morelli has played the Ocean Course many times, but prefers Kiawah's Osprey Point or the private Cassique course at Kiawah Island. Tommy Braswell/Special to The Post and Courier

"You can go out and see if you can compete with the guys who play for a living," said Pinckney, who shot in the mid-70s in a casual round. "I don't think I would want to play it every day, even if I could afford it. They've got some good holes out there."

Tony Morelli said he played the Ocean Course often, thanks to his friendship with the course superintendent, but he much prefers playing Osprey Point or the private Cassique course at Kiawah Island.

"My best memory is parring the (par-3) 17th hole from the back tees," Morelli said.

And that's probably on the bucket list for a lot of the golfers who will be returning to the Ocean Course for the 2021 PGA Championship.